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Mexican Road Trip - Part 3

BELIZE | Friday, 15 February 2008 | Views [542] | Comments [4]

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, but we've been covering some ground and fighting over the internet PC at hotels, so I've been chilling out and enjoying the ride :).

I got rid of that bug in my stomache that caused me some grief before, and we did a day trip from Merida to some Cenotes - pools in collapsed cave systems fed by underground streams. They lie in the area used to be covered by Haciendas which farmed the Agave cactus for its rope fibre before the invention of nylon. We accessed the Cenotes in small horse drawn carts along centuries old railway lines which used to carry the raw fibre to the Haciendas. Thats was a blast!, hehe. The cenotes themselves are about 15m deep in the gound and me and 1 other guy were the only ones brave (or foolish) enough to jump in from the top! I hadn't done something like that for 20 years, haha.

The next day we moved from Merida to Cancun via Chichen Itza. This is an icon site and unfortunately we arrived on a Saturday afternoon with hordes of other tourists. The place has really been exploited for its tourism value which detracted from its significance in the annals of Mexican history.

But despite the masses of people and souvenir stalls which litter every pedestrian access way, its an incredible place with the calendar pyramid, El Castillo, taking centre stage of the site. We saw the ball court, the Temple of Warriors and the Cenote where they used to throw their sacrificial offerings. But its the rounded observatory building which sets this site apart form others - being round, unlike any other Mayan building. It resembles the modern observatories of Mt Palomar and others.

Now Cancun is really just a playground for the Yanks on their vacation. It resembles the Gold Coast but worse! We avoided the main beach and deceided to bus it down to Playa del Carmen instead, which was supposed to be a more laid back beach atmosphere with less touristy type attractions. Wrong! Its still pretty choked with Yanks and all the hoohar of the Gold Coast but without the extensive stretches of high rise apartments and hotels. However we found a great little beach front cafe and bar and enjoyed the time sunning ourselves, dipping in the warm blue Carribean waters, eating fantastic fresh seafood and grooving to a small local outfit that played dance tunes in the background :).

But at Cancun we had to say farewell to half of our group, some of whom were heading for Cuba, and the others heading home. It was sad to see my new friends go :(. We also picked up 7 new people in the group, and it was hard to avoid analogies with the Big Brother evictees vs intruders scenario which changed the dynamic of the group.

Our next stop was the beachside ruin city of Tulum. Now these Mayans new how to pick the perfect place for a city! Right on the beach, atop a high ridge which looks up and down the coast. Its also amazing but unlike the other sites we've seen, this was the last to be vacated by the Mayans when the Spanish arrived. Its a walled city where only the elite lived inside the walls, including the high priest and his cohorts. The sacrifical rock of the priests temple still stands, as well as the observatories they used to read the stars. The ruins are inhabited by their new residents - large iguanas and lizards which posed freely for our cameras :). These 'Mexican Chickens' as they are called (doesn't everything taste like chicken?) were part of the highlight of Tulum for me. I haven't seen too much wildlife apart form the birds so far.

From Tulum, we crossed the Belize border into Belize City. There was a mishap at the crossing where our tour guide wan't allowed to pass as he didn't have his passport!  Doh! So I resumed responsiblity for the group, and it was only thanks to the High Spirt thats guiding us across these lands, that our guide found a way to get across the border (isn't money a wonderful thing in times of strife? hehe) and meet up with our bus about 2 hours later. I must say I wasn't looking forward to haggling with Belizean taxi drivers to get us to our next stop!

Belize is a different world again. We entered a land which is mostly Afro Carribean 'rastafari' country and the language is a mix of English and Rasta! We boarded a speed boat and got taken out to Caya Caulker, an awesome tropical island bathing in the Carribean sun and surf :). So more sunning ourselves and swimming in clear blue waters was refreshed by downing 2 for 1 cocktails and eating fresh seafood - ahh does it get much better than this? lol. The motto on the island is 'Go Slow' and thats exactly what everyone does. There are no cars, only golf buggy carts to carry people or baggage around, and boats. We spent most of today out on the reefs snorkelling with big eagle rays, schools of tropical fish, a nasty looking barracuda and the occaisonal reef shark! This is the second largest coral reef in the world after our Great Barrier Reef, and all the little guys from 'Finding Nemo' were there :).

So now after more fun in the sun, we're preparing for the next leg of the tour which will take us into Guatemala and the island town of Flores. Lets hope the border crossing goes smoothly this time! hehe.

Until next time .... go slow! :)

Tags: On the Road

Comments

1

I wonder what the poor people are doing today....oh that's right, working and reading on the net about affluent travelers sunning themselves in Caribbean waters! :) Brilliant stuff mate. Sounds like you're not wanting to come back. Driving your Holden will seem like you're doing light speed after spending time in that cruisey place! :) "Go slow" sounds like a great motto. Thanks for the update and i'm looking forward to your next installment when you get time to post it. All the best mate and i'm glad the High Spirit has your back :)

s.

  Steve Watson Feb 15, 2008 11:37 AM

2

wow, the carribean sounds dreamy...and a world away from kensington!

  laurina Feb 15, 2008 1:50 PM

3

mattttso...sounds awesome...u coming back or are you going to stow away on the islands somewhere sipping cocktails??? take care mon

  Chris Feb 16, 2008 2:46 PM

4

Matthew,
Be very careful about jumping into waters that you don't know. Many people have been injured by hitting their heads on submerged rocks or other debris. Enjoy your holiday but go carefully.
Love. Danka and Dad

Sounds like you are having a ball!

  Dad Feb 17, 2008 8:13 PM

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